Are you like I was? Confused about all the talk of Superfoods? Wondering why we should eat more of them, and are they really super? Well after much research and giving most of them a try here is what I found that will help us make our own decisions.
Superfoods are foods that have an unusually high content of antioxidants, vitamins or other nutrients that help our body function properly. Vitamins like C and E, folic acid and carotenoids help prevent heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes while protecting us from aging skin and some say block the effects of cancer cells on their target tissues while helping suppress the development of certain cancers.
They do all of that while delighting our senses with their wonderful colors, tastes and smells. Here are just a few things that superfoods can do for us:
• Strengthen our immune system
• Lower our risk for certain cancers
• Ward off type 2 diabetes
• Reduce high blood pressure
• Prevent some eye disorders
• Maintain urinary tract health
• Maintain heart health
• Improve memory
• Help build strong bones and teeth
• Reduce the effect of aging on the skin
A RAINBOW OF FOODS
Many red foods contain antioxidants that protect our bodies from the damaging effects of free radicals. Dr. Eric Braverman [B1],noted physician, researcher and author in his book, The Younger You, says “The red pigments help protect your skin and promote stronger blood vessels, cartilage, tendons and ligaments from damage. These pigments may also reduce the likelihood of cancer by preventing tissue degeneration that sometimes follow chronic irritation.”[B2][B3][B4]
Consider adding more of these foods to your diet: rhubarb, kidney beans, apples, watermelon, red peppers, red grapes, cranberry, red onions, red apples, raspberries, red cherries, red grapefruit, strawberries, tomatoes, red potatoes, red grapes, kidney beans and red beets.
High in carotenoids, shown to have anticancer and antioxidant properties experts encourage us to eat two to three different orange foods daily. Don’t forget oranges as you plan your diet. They are high in vitamin C, which has been shown to lessen arterial plaque while protecting us againstAlzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Crohn’s, arthritis and diabetes.Consider these: carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, parsnips, pumpkin, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, tangerines, peaches, pumpkin seeds and butternut squash.
Yellow corn is rich in carotenoids, zeaxanthin and lutein, which protect your eyes and skin from UVdamage. Other yellow fruits and vegetables also contain high amounts of carotenoids and bioflavonoid which have anticancer and antioxidant properties. It is recommended that we eat 2-3 of these per day: corn, chickpeas, yellow bell pepper, butternut squash, pineapple, bananas, golden apples, grapefruit, papayas, walnuts, cashews, sesame seeds, pine nuts and macadamia nuts.
These are said to have the highest concentration of easily digestible nutrients. Consuming them promotes the production of hemoglobin while chlorophyll has anti-cancer, heart disease fighting and detoxifying properties. Of special interest is kale. Just one cup of cooked kale contains 1,300% of the daily requirement of vitamin K and is rich in calcium and manganese all helping nurture strong bones.
One serving a day of any of these is recommended: artichokes, broccoli, asparagus, lima beans, fava and green beans, Brussels sprouts, celery, fennel, collards, kale, lettuces, green bell peppers, spinach, cabbage, cucumbers, Swiss chard, limes, kiwi, green grapes, green apples, avocado and pears.
Blue foods are extremely high in antioxidant compounds that protect your body from the damaging effects of free radicals. Many of them contain anthocyanins and phenolics being studied for their anti-aging benefits including cognitive and motor functions.
Put blue in your diet with any of these foods: blackberries, plums, blueberries, dark grapes, black walnuts, Brazil nuts, currants or black beans.
Violet and Indigo
Dr. Eric Braverman says, “Specifically, dark blue and indigo foods reduce oxidative stress, one of the main factors that cause aging.” They also contain resveratrol, believed to reduce the risk of disease and cancer.
Try these: beets, purple kale, red cabbage, purple broccoli, turnips, plums, prunes, ruby grapes and passion fruit.
Onions are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and have been shown to improve cardio-vascular health. White superfoods containing anthoxanthins[B5], which also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Violet and Indigo
Fiber helps lower our blood sugar and cholesterol while aiding digestion and making us feel full. Fiber is sourced from many foods including fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Spelt, barley and quinoa are three special sources to consider.
Spelt, found in pastas and bread, is high in riboflavin which helps convert carbohydrates into fuel and metabolize fat and protein while promoting healthy skin, hair, eyes and liver.
Barley is high in tryptophan and can aid in sleep regulation.
Quinoa has properties that help protect against arteriosclerosis and breast cancer while also acting as a probiotic.
Herbs and Spices
Herbs boost our metabolism while adding color and variety to our foods. They are loaded with anti-aging nutrients and have antioxidant and antibacterial characteristics.
Rosemary and basil, in particular, have anti-inflammatory properties. Lemongrass, bay leaves and nutmeg have calming effects and oregano is a fungus combatant.
Some would say that spices have superpowers. Here are the ones to call on when you need them:
• Dementia fighting – cumin and sage
• Obesity fighting – cayenne and cinnamon
• Sugar regulating – coriander and cinnamon
• Heart health – garlic, mustard seed and chicory
• Skin saving – basil and thyme
• Immune system – turmeric, basil, thyme, saffron and ginger
• Depression fighting – coriander, rosemary, cayenne pepper and black pepper
• Cancer fighting – turmeric
A delight to our senses and a boost to our well-being. What could be better?
Superfoods are for everyone!